Mr. Trump’s refusal to learn the lessons of Charlottesville deepened his estrangement from two panels of national business leaders enlisted to advise him. As more executives resigned in protest of the president’s equivocations, Mr. Trump was forced to disband the groups on Wednesday rather than suffer the humiliation of continuing defections.
“Intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values,” the Strategic and Policy Forum of corporate leaders declared in a parting statement.
The president’s resentment at being expected to denounce the white supremacists who oppose the removal of such monuments has overshadowed the search for reconciliation and closure among state and local politicians. In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings described the city’s Confederate statues as “dangerous totems” and asked the City Council to settle their fate. In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper proposed that the legislature reverse a 2015 law that blocked the removal or relocation of monuments. Civil War history “belongs in textbooks and museums,” the governor said, “not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds.”
The shifting mood was epitomized by the Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, who reversed his earlier position and urged local governments to consider taking the statues down because they had become “flashpoints of hatred.” Similar moves were underway in San Antonio, Memphis, Jacksonville, Fla., and Lexington, Ky., where Mayor Jim Gray called for the removal of two Confederate statues near the auction block where African slaves were once bought and sold. “This is the right time,” the mayor said. “We accelerated that because of the events in Charlottesville.”
The bigots who feel so encouraged by President Trump — resurgent neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites — claim they are only defending history itself.
If so, they should devote particular attention to Baltimore’s removal of the monument to Chief Justice Roger Taney of the Supreme Court, the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision that fed national divisions before the Civil War. Taney wrote in 1857 that under the Constitution, black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”Dred Scott is part of the woeful history that underpins a swaggering modern white supremacy movement that claims…